Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Wild Goose Chase - Part 1

Friday, November 9, 2010

After a quick and early commute from Albany, New York to Acton, Massachusetts, I found myself driving in what is basically Sleepy Hollow.  I expected Ichabod Crane at any minute.  I couldn't look for him as the roads were winding like you would not believe and the utility poles are placed like the trees – they practically grow out of the road. One bad move and you eat wood.

Within minutes, I found myself looking over a field.  A few hundred Canada Geese were munching happily.  A quick scan of the birds did not turn up my target bird.  Another more thorough scan with my scope and I found my guy – Barnacle Goose (#635). What a good looking bird!  And quite a rare one, too.  That said, they are becoming more coming in the eastern states. Still very rare, sure, but more common.

In case you are wondering about the name “Barnacle”, here goes.  Recognizing that the goose was not seen in the summer months in Europe (they were breeding far to the north), someway, somehow, in the grand tradition of silliness and ignorance, early Europeans thought that they were “forming” in the sea from driftwood.  What is on the driftwood? Yup, barnacles.   Apparently, barnacles (the sea crustaceans) were named after the bird.

Sadly, with hundreds of miles ahead of me, I had to press on.  Goose gawking did not exceed ten minutes. Shediac, New Brunswick could not be made before nightfall given the short winter days.

My late lunch was at the Sea Dog Brewing Company in Bangor, Maine. Go if you have the chance. Any place that has a picture of Joshua Chamberlain hanging behind the cash register gets a bonus point. The grub was good and the beers were, too.  The Bangor Pale Ale, Bluepaw Wheat Ale, Brown Ale, Octoberfest, Fisherman, and Pumpkin beer (#837-#840) were average to good.  The exception was the Pumpkin Beer. They are hard to pull off.  They rarely involve real pumpkins and instead use seasonal spices like cinnamon or allspice.  They often are disastrous. This one was not a disaster, but it was damn close.

The rest of Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Maine were pretty uneventful.  Sure, the Goshawk moving over the expressway was cool and Bald Eagles always are, too, but birding at 75 mph was pretty light for the most part.

I found myself in Shediac at....whatever time it was. Who cares.  I was tired.  I missed the scenery – all that night driving.   I had been to New Brunswick before and I can tell you it is quite nice.  The border crossing was a snap even though it appears that Border Agents are not in tune with North American birding.  Along the way (during my driving breaks, mind you) I had been exchanging emails with New Brunswick birder.  He had contacted me that night and offered to meet me to show me Target Bird #2.

I slept well.

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